Gerald Marshall describes life on death row
The cages you see are what I have lived in for the last years. It looks a little bare without all my stuff in it. When you walk into my cage on the top shelf there is a gang of legal books and other self-help/business books. On my bottom shelf there is a towel hanging on my desk so that the rust from it won’t get on my drawings. I have a mattress that lies on the bunk. But when I am awake I usually fold my mattress to the side and use the bunk for a place to put my papers. I have a close line running from the light to the top shelf and I have one running from light guard to the back window. Here I hang my clothes when I wash them.
In the box I usually put papers there, or food which they sell on the commissary and I place my shoes, hot pot and fan underneath the open side of the bunk. I use a bag full of papers to type standing up some times, but most times I am sitting down reading or writing.
I stay in this cage 22 hours a day, 5 days a week. I do get to come out 2 hours a day for five days. The other two days I am stuck in this cage for 24 hours. Every day I am able to shower thought. When I come out this cage it is in hand cuffs, the small slot in the cage they serve food through, but it is used for me to turn around and squat down the stick my hands out of so that the guard can handcuff me.
There are 7 pods with 84 cages similar to this on Texas Deathrow. On each pod there are 6 sections, each section holds 14 cages. So I have on top of me, I am in cage one right now, and I have a cage on the left hand side of me. The numbers go from 1 to 84. I am currently in cage one, the first cage on the pod.
Each section has its own day room, this is where they put us for the two hours we come out. There are also two recreation outside yards, where they have a basketball and basketball goal.
Pretty much there isn’t anything to do here but read, draw, write and get letters. They do have a visitation room which is about as big as your closet. There is a glass where you talk in private to someone, but they are allowed listening to the calls. It is a pretty pathetic place, especially for those who don’t have the chance to do something that keeps them mentally stimulated. Some of my closest friends went crazy, one came back to reality and the others haven’t. A friend also has killed himself as he was tired of being here on Texas Death Row.
The decision to write a death row inmate shouldn’t be taken lightly